Date: June 5, 2018
Authors: Chelsea Hodson with Leopoldine Core
Venue: Greenlight Books, Brooklyn
Free Drinks: Yes
Q & A: Yes
Drone-O-Meter reading: negative
UE Check Number: benefits expired
When you are a professional audience member at NYC readings, never mind my responsibility to note when authors drone on, it can be tough gig.
I probably would have gone to Chelsea Hodson’s reading at Greenlight Books in Ft. Greene Tuesday night even if I hadn’t seen her tweet that morning.
It summed up the whole philosphy of this blog, which I started a few years ago when the writer Brando Skyhorse told me I should write a blog about all the readings I was going to.
Chelsea tweeted: Life Lesson: go to readings, talk to strangers. Well, that’s what Brando told me to do. He added, then write up the results and post them.
Tuesday's reading was the kick-off event for Chelsea's new book, “Tonight I’m Someone Else.” She was joined by the author Leopoldine Core. Neither writer droned on.
Chelsea read a short, fascinating piece about her pre-teen crush on a member of the band Hanson. When a different member of the band turned up on the radio, she called in and talked to him, trusting that cosmic forces would communicate her love for his bandmate without her having to say it.
While it wasn’t quite the debut of “The Rites of Spring,” the bookstore was filled with an overflow crowd of Brooklyn readers and writers. There must have been some youngish-Brooklyn writers, agents and publicists who didn’t turn out, but not many.
At some readings, oddly, nobody talks to each other. But I was lucky to be squeezed in between the writer and editor Raluca Albu to my right and the writer Peter von Ziegesar to my left who turned out to be chatterboxes.
I mentioned to Raluca that I go to so many readings, I’m able to identify a lot of Brooklyn writers and publishing industry people on sight. Raluca, an editor at Bomb and Guernica among other gigs, knows even more. We played the fun game, while waiting for the reading to start, of trying to identify people in the audience.
We both sat up a little straighter in our seats when we saw the gifted Lynne Tillman, not a Brooklynite, come in. Raluca pointed out a few Public Space editors who must have arrived too late to get seats.
We saw the writer Deirdre Coyle join the standing-room only crowd behind us. Chelsea’s publicist Lauren Cerand came in a few minutes after the reading started and stood by the bookstore’s door.
Raluca and I really had fun identifying Chelsea’s agent, who was sitting in the front row.
Raluca said this young woman’s name started with an M. I agreed, adding that I heard her speak at last summer’s Catapult writing conference.
“With an M, but with a funny spelling,” I said.
A few minutes later Raluca won that round of our game by identifying Chelsea’s agent as Mo Knee Ca Woods. Her pinned tweet says, “My clients are dope and they write dope shit.”
In fact, Chelsea is so dope that I’m always a little disappointed when I go to one of her readings and she just walks onto the stage, or up to the mike, and starts reading.
This is because when Chelsea, who is also a performance artist and a musician, read at Dixon Place a few years ago, she enlisted a bulky guy in a suit to carry her onto the stage and to hold her up during the reading. Then he carried her off.
Neither performer broke character when the reading was over. I think the guy just carried Chelsea out the door.
As a result, I think of Chelsea as the writer most likely to someday fly onto the stage or podium perhaps by use of one of those wire harnesses that elevate Broadway actors around above the stage and the audience.
But whether the authors stride up to the microphone or parachute in through the roof of the independent bookstore, it is important to support these retail outlets that are so vital to presenting new and overlooked voices. Plus, they’re much easier to shoplift from.
Joking aside, I talked to Peter after the reading. He told me he is the author of the memoir “My Mirror Image Brother.” After he described the book I was struck by his seriousness and figured it was probably a pretty good book. For some reason the Michael Greenberg classic memoir “Hurry Sundown” popped into my mind and I mentioned it to Peter. He said that when his book came out, he and Michael did a reading together at Greenlight.
The next reading I go to will probably be one where the audience members don’t talk to each other. That’s fine, too. Brando didn’t tell how to write this blog, but I’m sure he would agree that all conversations aside, it’s the work that matters.
“Tonight I’m Someone Else” is a must-read for this professional audience member.